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Car crash death tragedy of drink-drive RAF serviceman
AN RAF serviceman died after driving down the A40 nearly three times the drink-drive limit, a coroner heard.
Jack Webster died on Sunday, January 15, when his Peugeot 207 crashed near the B4477 slip road from the westbound A40 near Witney.
He had celebrated his 22nd birthday just 48 hours before his death.
His inquest was held yesterday when Oxfordshire’s coroner Darren Salter ruled his death was accidental.
Mr Webster, originally from Southport, Merseyside, joined the RAF as a mechanical engineer at Brize Norton in 2010.
He had been out at a bar in Witney with two friends – support worker Jessica Ratcliffe and fellow aircraft engineer Craig Blackburn.
They were captured on CCTV getting into Mr Webster’s car which was parked near Norton’s cafe just before 2.30am.
Emergency services were called at 5.02am when Mr Webster’s car was found at the bottom of a 20ft embankment.
Mr Blackburn said the pair had drunk “five or six” double vodka and cokes as well as “about six” tequilas.
A toxicology report showed Mr Webster had 213 milligrammes of alcohol per litre of blood in his system. The legal limit is 80 milligrammes.
He said there had been an argument after they left Izi’s bar in Witney about whether they should take a taxi but Mr Webster had insisted he was fit to drive.
Mr Blackburn, who suffered three brain haemorrhages due to the crash, said: “I got into the back of his Peugeot and I recall Jack telling Jess to put her seat belt on but I don’t recall if she did.
“On the way back down the A40 I was texting my friend. As I looked up I noticed Jess’s seat belt was not on. I told her to put it on and Jack started kicking off.
“He was still looking at her to see if she had put her seat belt on as we turned off on to the slip road.”
Ms Ratcliffe said she could not recall any events which happened between leaving Brize Norton and waking up in the John Radcliffe Hospital.
PC Daniel Henderson, who investigated the crash, said: “Most likely explanation would be that, while intoxicated, he failed to maintain proper control of the vehicle.
“Based on evidence it certainly seems possible that there was a distraction.”
Dr Eve Fryer, a pathologist, said Mr Webster died as a result of severe head injuries within a few minutes of the crash.
Coroner Mr Salter said: “There was a combination of a level of distraction and intoxication which resulted in the loss of control of the car.”
A verdict of accidental death was delivered.
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